(HealthDay News) — Think twice if you're pregnant and want a packaged pastry or burger and juice on the go. This indulgence can do more than just cause unwanted weight gain. A new study shows that PhthalatesChemicals associated with plastic can leach from packaging and even plastic gloves used by food handlers.
Researchers warn that these substances, if consumed during pregnancy, could harm the fetus.
“When a mother is exposed to this chemical, it can cross the placenta and enter the fetus's circulation.“The lead author of the study said, Dr. Sheela SatyanarayanaPediatrician University of Wisconsin Medicine And the researcher in it Seattle Pediatric Research Institute. She and her collaborators noted that Phthalates It can cause inflammation and oxidative stress in the fetus. (Oxidative stress is a harmful chemical imbalance in the body.)
Previous research has linked exposure to phthalates during pregnancy to an increased risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and childhood disorders such as autism and ADHD.
The new study was published in the latest issue of the journal International environmentThe researchers examined data on 1,031 pregnant women who were enrolled in a separate study on mental development and learning between 2006 and 2011. Phthalates It was measured during the participants' second trimester. On average, ultra-processed foods made up 39% of the participants' diet.
Each 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods was associated with a 13% increase in di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate levels.It is one of the most common and harmful of these chemicals.
The researchers noted that ultra-processed foods are made largely from substances extracted from foods such as oils, sugar and starch. Food companies add chemicals and preservatives to extend their shelf life or make them more attractive, some of which are difficult to recognize from their original form. The researchers cited packaged cake mixes, potato chips, hamburger buns, and soft drinks as examples.
However, when it comes to fast food, the gloves workers wear and the tools they use to prepare, store and serve can be the main sources of exposure, the study found. The lead author of the study, Brennan BakerBoth frozen and fresh ingredients are subject to these sources, said a postdoctoral researcher in Satyanarayana's lab.
“We don't blame the pregnant personBaker said in a university news release. “We have to call on manufacturers and lawmakers to provide alternatives, so that they are not more harmful.”
The researchers said this is the first study to show a link between ultra-processed foods, exposure to phthalates and economic problems. They said the risks to mothers may be due to financial difficulties, as well as living in areas with limited access to fresh and healthy food. They asked officials to regulate the composition of food packaging and gloves that food handlers can use.
In the meantime, Satyanarayana She urged pregnant women to avoid ultra-processed foods and eat fruits, vegetables and lean meats instead. Read labels carefully, he advised. “Look for the smallest number of ingredients and make sure you can understand the ingredients,” she said, adding that this applies even to “health foods” like breakfast bars.
More information: The University of Michigan's Center for Ingredient Safety Research offers more information about food packaging safety.
Source: University of Washington School of Medicine, press release, February 7, 2024
* HealthDay reporter Carol Tanzer Miller © The New York Times 2024
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